What are U of C’s Environmental Design students up to? Part II

MP |

mc.t   2015.04.06

The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design is consistently involved in exciting and innovative new projects. These current projects are built around an integrative concept that will engage design students and encourage collaborative efforts through learning, creating, and researching various topics of interest.

These students are the next generation of designers to potentially influence, inspire, and leave their mark on the Calgary architectural industry and the city of Calgary itself.  It is, therefore, of interest to explore what they are learning now, where they find their ideas, and what is influencing their education. How is their curriculum functioning to prepare them for their futures? What thoughts, creative projects, and future directions define the next generation of EVDS students?

I spoke to two design students from EVDS – one from each year of the planning program – to learn about their projects and what they are producing this term.  This post will showcase some of the current problems presented to students and will describe their responses, critical thoughts and interpretations, creative problem solving strategies, and models of potential solutions. The post will offer a well-rounded glimpse by including summaries of studio platforms as well as collections of student work created so far this term.

Stay tuned next week for what the Architecture Senior Research Studios students in EVDS are up to!

Nathan Arthur – Master’s of Planning (First Year)


Studio overview:  For this semester’s studio (EVDP 637) we are creating hypothetical area structure plans for two sites: North and West Calgary.  The main goal is essentially to create well connected, vibrant, and active neighbourhoods through creative design methods related to suburban development.  The professors are wanting us to create a modified version of a typical ASP showing land use concepts, transportation networks, infrastructure, and environmental conditions for the project, and install a variety of housing options and job opportunities.  Mostly they are trying to get across what the process is like for creating an ASP, as it is one of the most difficult and comprehensive planning projects undertaken.


Specifics about your project:  So far with our ASP in Glacier Ridge (north Calgary), our main goal is to create a well-connected network not only within the plan area, but with the entire city.  There is a lot of disconnect within the suburbs having many curvilinear roads, difficult streets to navigate, and limited access to surrounding areas.  Our project aims to give every resident quick access to public transit within the neighbourhoods, efficient vehicle, cycling, and pedestrian networks, as well as several options to easily navigate to other neighbourhoods and business districts throughout Calgary.


Reflection:  So far I’ve learned a great deal about how comprehensive planning truly is in terms of a process.  There are so many factors to consider at several different scales, you have to really organize your thoughts as you approach any type of project.  We need to always consider the stakeholders involved, the environment, topographical/geographical constraints, finances, government planning priorities, and many more.  Another thing is just how long term everything is.  Not only are we planning for the next 20 years, but trying to imagine how the projects will function 100 years from now.  So many things change over time, especially technology – so plans have to be versatile and adaptable over long term.  The more types of projects we get exposed to, the better our mindsets are becoming at sorting everything out and identifying everything that needs to be involved.





Rachelle – Master of Planning (2nd year)


Studio overview: In the MPlan final studio, students are exposed to a variety of issues that established communities are currently facing. Working with an existing community in Calgary, we have been responsible for undertaking a public engagement strategy with the members of the community to better understand the site. The information gathered from these engagement sessions, along with further analysis undertaken by each group of students, will be used to create a framework for land use, density and urban design in the neighbourhood.


Specifics about project:  The public engagement sessions were very valuable in helping us to better understand what the residents have identified as issues and opportunities. We’ve now been working to create specific guidelines and design concepts that can be used to guide future redevelopment, making sure to effectively address the issues that the residents had mentioned during the engagement sessions. For example, infill development was identified as a concern so we are looking at ways to continue to support development but to do so in a manner that is sensitive to the existing neighbourhood.


Reflection:  One of the most important things I’ve learned about planning is the benefit of getting to work with a variety of different people on projects. A multi-disciplinary approach provides the opportunity for examining a problem from many different angles, often leading to the most innovative and successful solutions.


Images: Panels from the public engagement sessions + model













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